Monday, December 25, 2006

United Nations Forces Launch Fresh Attacks Against Haitian Masses in Cite Soleil

Urgent action alert from the Haiti Action Committee -
December 24, 2006

The UN’s Christmas present to Haiti -- A pre-dawn, heavy-caliber assault on the men, women and children of Cite Soleil

In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday -- an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported.

Initial press accounts reported at least 40 casualties, all civilians. According to community testimony, UN forces flew overhead in helicopters and fired down into houses while other troops attacked from the ground with Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). People were killed in their homes. UN troops from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia took part in the all-day siege, backed by Haitian police. UN soldiers once again targeted the Bois Neuf and Drouillard districts of Cite Soleil -- scene of the July 6th massacre.

While reports are still coming in, this is what we do know right now:
--A Reuters photographer "counted 9 bodies, and eyewitnesses counted 4 others dead. As many as 30 people were wounded, humanitarian workers said. All of the casualties are believed to be civilians." (Reuters)
--One Haitian human rights observer personally counted at least 17 dead bodies on the ground. This eyewitness also reported:
--A woman 6-months pregnant was shot in the stomach, killing the unborn child.
--A man and his 8-year-old boy were in their beds when a helicopter rained bullets into their house, wounding both.
--A man named Jacquelin Olivier was killed in his bed when bullets pierced the walls. He leaves a wife and 3-year old boy.
--"The foreigners came shooting for hours without interruption and killed 10 people," said Bois Neuf resident Johnny Claircidor, quoted by Reuters. "They came here to terrorize the population," Cite Soleil resident Rose Martel told Reuters, referring to UN troops and police. "I don't think they really killed any bandits, unless they consider all of us as bandits."
--Agence Haitienne de Presse (AHP) said Cite Soleil "residents report very serious property damage and there are concerns that a critical water shortage may now develop because water cisterns and pipes were punctured by the gunfire."
--"Local residents say the victims were ordinary citizens whose only crime was that they live in the targeted neighborhood." (AHP)

UN soldiers block Red Cross vehicles from coming to aid the wounded -- According to Pierre Alexis, the Haitian Red Cross coordinator for Cite Soleil, the UN soldiers prevented the Haitian Red Cross from treating children injured during the assault. Alexis said that many children were suffering serious injuries, but that UN soldiers blocked Red Cross vehicles from entering Cite Soleil. AHP reported that "residents were outraged that [UN] soldiers refused to allow medical care...for people they had injured." Despite this, St. Catherine's Hospital in Cite Soleil reported receiving many wounded.

Why this latest assault on the people of Cite Soleil? -- UN occupation authorities in Haiti claim it is part of their fight against "bandits" and "kidnappers," scapegoating the 300,000 residents of Cite Soleil. However, it is widely known throughout Port-au-Prince that kidnappers are coming from all sectors, including corrupt police officials and the wealthy. Does the UN lead military assaults on affluent neighborhoods where kidnappers are known to operate? Of course not.

A more plausible explanation comes from grassroots activists in Cite Soleil. They argue that this is "punishment" for their ongoing protests demanding an end to the UN occupation, restoration of full democracy, return of President Aristide, and the release of political prisoners. Additionally, the people of Cite Soleil have been vigorously protesting the December 3rd municipal elections, in which there were widespread allegations of fraud and many from the popular neighborhoods were prevented from voting.

Just recently, on December 16th, the people of Cite Soleil led a massive protest throughout Port-au-Prince marking the anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s first election as president in 1990. [They marched despite the UN shooting up the district the night before, in what was widely viewed as a UN attempt to intimidate the populace on the eve of the march.] In the week following the march, tensions continued to escalate, culminating in the December 22nd assault by UN forces under Brazilian command.

Enough is enough! Join us in denouncing the ongoing UN terror attacks on the Haitian people!

Now is the time for people in the US and throughout the world to step up our solidarity efforts with the people of Haiti. Our protests, calls and letters after the UN massacre in Cite Soleil on July 6th, 2005 -- and the many UN attacks since then -- need to be updated, expanded, intensified. Demand an end to the UN’s repeated, brutal assaults on this besieged community.

Email or fax the UN official below. Keep it brief.
*** Denounce the massive, heavy-caliber assault on the citizens of Cite Soleil by UN occupation forces on Dec. 22, 2006.
*** Demand reparations for the victims and their families.
*** Demand prosecution of the UN officials, commanders and soldiers responsible for this latest UN atrocity in Haiti.

TO: Edmond Mulet, UN Special Representative in Haiti -- fax 011-509-244-3512
cc to: Thierry Fagart, UN Human Rights chief in Haiti -- fax 011-509-244-9366
cc to: Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights fax 011-41-22-917-9011

For more information: 510 483 7481 or email and

Five die in Haiti slum violence

At least five people have been killed in clashes between UN troops and armed gang members in a Haitian shantytown near the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The UN mission said the confrontation began early on Friday morning, but were unable to comment on casualty figures.

They said a UN vehicle was also burnt in the clashes at the Cite Soleil slum.

UN peacekeepers - in Haiti since 2004 - have stepped up patrols amid worsening security in the area, but opposition to their presence has grown.

They were sent to maintain order after a revolt ousted the former President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Gun battles

A UN statement said its troops had launched a joint operation with Haitian police as part of an effort to fight a recent upsurge in kidnapping and other violence by gangs based in the slum.

Eyewitnesses said several victims were taken to hospital, and local residents showed reporters the bodies of five men who, they said, were killed by UN fire.

Residents had previously accused UN soldiers of firing indiscriminately during gun battles with gang members.

The UN has denied this, saying peacekeepers only open fire when they come under attack.

The Brazilian-led UN force includes more than 8,000 soldiers and police supported by some 1,000 civilian personnel.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/22 23:55:46 GMT

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